It’s all about chemistry: Israel needs to integrate Avdija ASAP

Aug 17, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

The Israel National Team takes on Romania on Thursday evening (20:30) at the Drive In as the blue-and-white finish off their exhibition schedule ahead of their World Cup qualifiers and the 2022 Eurobasket group stages in Prague.

There’s almost no doubt that Guy Goodes’s squad will finish 5-0 but in reality how will that record translate into the real McCoy which gets underway next Thursday night in Finland. The truth is that it’s quite the unknown for a number of reasons.

From Deni Avdija only being available due to illness last week against Auburn which featured a partial squad to the second game against Romania and the fact that Israel played a pair of games versus a fairly weak side, definitely wasn’t the plan Goodes had thought would play out a number of months ago. Israel needed to play higher level competition to really see how they stack up against the cream of the crop.

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

“There’s no question that this wasn’t the top level competition,” Goodes admitted after Israel’s 112-61 win over Romania. “I wanted to be in the tournament with Greece and Turkey but it didn’t work from their side but we wanted to play. We don’t need to look too hard as to what we can learn from the game.”

Not to put down Georgia who are a good squad, but serious teams that believe that they can go deep in the Eurobasket are all playing each other. Greece faced Spain, Italy played France and so forth. The blue-and-white HAD to find a way to play stiffer competition and in essence as much as no one will admit it, Israel may have to look at the games against Finland and Sweden as ones where they need to really still work on integrating Avdija with the balance of the team. There may be no choice if they want to advance to the knockout stages of the Eurobasket and head to Berlin in the best shape possible.

Roman Sorkin however didn’t want to hear any of that and is looking at the upcoming qualifiers as exactly that, massively crucial games for Israel, “Our goal is to compete in the World Cup qualifiers and not look at those games as preparation for the Eurobasket. Once those games are over we will begin getting ready for the European Championships.”

Roman Sorkin – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

But getting Avdija in tune with the balance of the team will be critical going forward and Goodes is very cognizant that the quicker that happens the better for his team. There can’t be any wasted minutes going forward and everyone involved is well aware of they want this upcoming campaign to be successful.

“Integrating Deni in the next game against Romania is critical,” Goodes explained. “Deni will play in what will probably be our last exhibition game. We will attempt to win in Finland. Of course I wanted to have Deni play in this game (the first Romania game) but he wasn’t feeling well and to just throw him into the action after doing nothing for a few days wouldn’t be helpful.”

“On Thursday he will need to get minutes in order for him to integrate into the lineup and get to play with the rest of the squad. If we can find that combination between Deni’s personal skills and abilities within the framework of the team, then we will really be able to gain something tremendous.”

Deni Avdija – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

Sorkin also spoke about getting Avdija into the swing of things, “Deni was ill with Corona and that isn’t something we can control. From the first game he was here he was able to play with us as we are all friends here. Playing more minutes is important and the atmosphere here for an actual game was good for us to play in and much better than just a practice. I don’t think that Romania is a bad team. We had another 40 minutes for all of us to play with each other and work on our plays.”

Work on their plays is what they’ll need to do in earnest in the second game against Romania in order to get the Washington Wizards forward up to speed so to speak. With Avdija’s intelligence, know how and swagger on the court it shouldn’t be much of an issue but these things still take time and time right now is of the essence.

Perhaps Yovel Zoosman who will get his first minutes with Avdija against Romania out it best, “I still don’t think we have a good indication as to what we can all do together. One game Deni is out and I was out another, so it’s hard to really know what the dynamics will be.“

Yovel Zoosman – Photo Credit: Dov Halickman

That is truly what the test will be for this Israel team, how fast can they put together those dynamics and chemistry because without them they may be in trouble and in for a much more difficult time then they had imagined.

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